MainFest Alhambra throws an all-out dance party with Capital Cities, Miami Horror & !!! on the bill

MainFest AlhambraBy Jansen Granflor //

MainFest Alhambra //
Downtown Alhambra – Alhambra, CA
September 10th, 2016 //

For its inaugural event this year, MainFest Alhambra shut down several blocks in downtown Alhambra, a city of less than 100,000 residents whose only affiliation with music before was being the hometown of Kenny Loggins and the scene of some sketchy Phil Spector behavior. That all changed when the initial teasers for MainFest dropped in July boasting Capital Cities, Miami Horror, and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) as headliners.

The MainFest lineup was subsequently finalized toward the end of August, with Nite-Jewel’s and Dam-Funk’s collaborative side project Nite-Funk added to the roster as well as a slew of local talent and DJ’s.

As maiden voyages go, getting around and into MainFest was a chore, with several security staff members sending festivalgoers in circles trying to find their way in. Once inside, guests were treated to free rock climbing, a live graffiti installation (with the back side serving as an open space for anyone to spraypaint) and an assortment of food/drink options, including food trucks and all the restaurants along Main Street.

Nite-Funk’s set was comprised of several tracks from their eponymous studio effort as well as singles from Nite-Jewel’s and Dam-Funk’s solo projects, making it easy to see why these two underground electronic artists have been teasing an EP since 2009.

MainFest Alhambra - !!!


!!!

Next up on the main stage was !!! (Chk Chk Chk), who have been creating their unique brand of upbeat dance-funk for almost two decades and without a doubt brought more energy than anyone else at MainFest. But if you have ever seen them live, you probably already knew that. Lead singer Nic Offer worked the crowd with his trademark aerobic gyrations, spending most of his time on top of the speaker cabinets and even wandering into the crowd for a song. Even though !!! have never reached the success of the acts who would follow them on the festival’s main stage, let’s hope they never slow down because they are just too much fun to watch live.

While the sun set, Australian indietronica band Miami Horror got the crowd moving and grooving with their nu-disco stylings. Lead singer Josh Moriarty shared vocal duties with Aaron Shanahan, each providing a contrasting style for the songs they fronted. Though a number of Miami Horror’s songs are somewhat slow for a dance act (in fact, one of their tracks is titled “Real Slow”), some of them (“Sometimes”, “Holidays”) can make the most introverted wallflowers cut up the dance floor.

​Closing out the debut of MainFest was LA’s own Capital Cities, whose breakout single “Safe and Sound” has kept them busy touring ever since it was released, leaving Ryan Merchant’s and Sebu Simonian’s days of writing commercials and jingles together a thing of the past. Their debut album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery lived up to the hype that “Safe and Sound” promised, and at MainFest, they announced that their sophomore studio effort was near completion.

Capital Cities breezed through crowd favorites, from the bass-thumping “Origami” to the singalong-inducing “Kangaroo Court”, before performing the first of what appeared to be multiple renditions of “Safe and Sound”, culminating in an EDM club-ready version to close out the night. All in all, the City of Alhambra had to be pleased with what they accomplished for the very first MainFest, and considering Los Angeles has nearly 100 suburbs, you can’t help but imagine others will soon follow suit.

As summer comes to an end, Viceroy tells us why it’s still ‘summertime all the time’ in his mind

ViceroyPhotos courtesy of Chubbies // Written by Jansen Granflor //

It’s not everyday that you get to interview someone whom you truly admire, but last month the opportunity presented itself while prepping for the second weekend of Splash House in Palm Springs (read our review here).

Viceroy, born Austen Afridi, is an unofficial ambassador for the twice-a-summer event that reigns supreme over all other California pool parties. Just close your eyes and imagine this: beautiful people sunbathing by the pool, clear blue skies, hot weather, ice-cold drinks and a thumping house beat. Viceroy, otherwise known as the “Sultan of Summer” as he playfully calls himself, has been painting this exact picture for years with his music, and it finally all makes sense now — Afridi, both literally and metaphorically, has become “a ruler exercising authority” over a kingdom he created.

Showbams spoke with Viceroy about his “summertime all the time” brand, his Jetlife side project and his affinity for Hawaiian shirts, among other topics.


Showbams: You are slowly becoming the unofficial face of Splash House as the color palette and beats match the Viceroy mentality. What do you think of Splash House? Have you been to one?

Viceroy: I love the vibe at Splash House. I’ve played every single one of them, and it’s always a blast. My friends come with me, so I stay the whole weekend.

Showbams: When did you first come up with your “summertime all the time” brand, and what influenced it?

Viceroy: I came up with it when I started Viceroy five years ago. It just came naturally to me as I love summer more than anything. It really speaks to who I am as a person.

Showbams: How about Jetlife? That side project seems like a nice alternate approach to the other music you create.

Viceroy: I love 90’s hip hop and R&B. It’s fun to throw my signature sound on something that originally is so different.

Viceroy

Showbams: Are you still bringing a saxophone player with you to your gigs? Is it the same guy every time or do you recruit them from different cities? Do you provide a Hawaiian shirt for them as well?

Viceroy: Yes, his name is Simon and I bring him around. I’m also building out a live show with more musicians. My homies at Chubbies provide Simon with fresh shirts and shorts!

Showbams: Speaking of Hawaiian shirts, I myself have built a small collection of Hawaiian shirts after seeing you perform in Orange County back in 2014 and now I notice them at thrift stores and buy/sell/trade places in Los Angeles. That said, how many do you own? Were they all purchased brand new or are some of them second-hand/vintage?

Viceroy: I have so many that I’ve lost count. I have a rad partnership with Chubbies, so all my shorts and shirts are from them.

Viceroy

Showbams: Being part of the early 2000’s house music generation, I fell in love with the “white label bootleg remixes” of the time. Are any of your remixes “bootlegs?”

Viceroy: When I started, some of my releases were bootlegs for sure, but now I get commissioned to do mine.

Showbams: Who are some of your favorite collaborators?

Viceroy: I loved working with Gavin Turek on my latest single “Fade Out”. K.Flay is rad, too!

Showbams: How do you feel about B2B sets?

Viceroy: I love them! Especially if it’s with the homies.

Viceroy

Showbams: A lot of your remixes add a very distinct layer of piano. Did you have any formal training growing up?

Viceroy: I grew up playing the piano for several years.

Showbams: Where do you call home now?

Viceroy: Good old San Francisco!

Showbams: What are you working on now? Any EP projects in mind? Any big tour dates ahead you’re prepping for?

Viceroy: I’m working on building the live show and just more music with a potential EP in the works.

Viceroy

Splash House 2016: One wet and wild weekend

Splash House 2016 - Weekend 2Photos by Anastasia Velicescu, Jesse Fulton, Jose Negrete & Quinn Tucket for Goldenvoice // Written by Jansen Granflor //

Splash House //
The Saguaro & The Riviera – Palm Springs, CA
August 12th-14th, 2016 //

Now in its third year and hosting its fifth overall event, Splash House combines the pools of The Saguaro and The Riviera for two weekends each summer. We drove from Orange County to Palm Springs last weekend to watch it all go down at the festival’s second edition in 2016.

There were also official after parties on Friday and Saturday night at the Palm Springs Air Museum, which trade pools and bare skin for shorts and shoes with laces for an intimate “dancing under the stars” experience. We spoke with festivalgoers as far north as the Bay Area, as far south as San Diego and as far east as Arizona who all made the journey for two days and three nights of excruciating heat, refreshing pools and unquestionably one of the most talented lineups of underground electronic artists.


Splash House 2016 - Weekend 2

Our weekend began at the Palm Springs Air Museum last Friday night with the weather just below 100 degrees and the excitement building for Australian alternative dance group RÜFÜS DU SOL, who performed at the Santa Monica Pier (read our review of the show here) the night before. It was also the only “live band” set we caught all weekend. A constant breeze provided a comfortable atmosphere we would not experience again until the following evening, as DJ duo Hotel Garuda played warmed up the crowd with remixes of “Ultraviolence” by Lana Del Rey and “Begging for Thread” by Banks, before the night culminated with the Sydney group doling out a number of hits, including “Like An Animal” & “Say a Prayer for Me”. However, for those who used Uber to get to the party, the night inevitably ended on a sour note (see what we mean below).

Splash House 2016 - Weekend 2 - Uber surge charge

Turning to Saturday, festivalgoers slowly trickled into the Saguaro’s pool area before 3 p.m., and two hours later, the place was jam-packed and it was close to being a fire hazard an hour later. Unofficial Splash House resident DJ Viceroy treated those present to the same poolside, “summertime-all-the-time” tunes he normally plays, although one could argue they worked better at Splash House than anywhere else in the world. From there, UK “hypnodance” duo Psychemagik kept the vibe going and transitioned into their remix/rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, which proved to be the first of numerous iconic moments that could be attributed to an oldie-but-goodie.

We subsequently made the trek to The Riviera, which had a much larger capacity and created a raw atmosphere with a soundtrack that featured EDM-infused trap, dubstep and hip-hop through the late afternoon and early evening. If the Saguaro was supposed to be the fest’s underground house music stage, The Riviera was the main stage with thumping, big-room bass, as the artists performed right beside the deep end (go figure) of The Riviera’s massive, expansive pool .

Scottish producer extraordinaire Hudson Mohawke had the ratchets grinding to “Pony” by Ginuwine at the end of his sundown set (just another iconic moment of the weekend set to a timeless masterpiece), while British duo Snakehips gave the party new life with a remix of The Weeknd’s “Wanderlust” early on in their headlining slot. Right before 9 p.m., Snakehips played their smash hit “All My Friends” feat. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, which was a bit of life-imitating art considering the song is about wasting another night with all your friends by getting, well, wasted of course, which was clearly what the crowd at The Riviera had been up to all night.

Splash House 2016 - Weekend 2

Saturday night’s action at the Palm Springs Air Museum featured music from two very busy deep-house artists — Germany’s Claptone and North London’s Chris Lake — playing for what felt like a much smaller audience than the previous night. The 100-degree heat at midnight could have been a significant factor, or it could have simply been the lineup, as one overseer for the venue told us how she loved RÜFÜS DU SOL the night before but could care less about the “techno” that was blaring in the background. As the evening progressed, Lake inevitably dropped his deep-house remix of Calvin Harris’ “How Deep is Your Love”, an absolute banger and an anthem for a sub-genre that has withstood the EDM boom-and-bust over the last few years. As the hottest Saturday in recent memory finally came to an end, Claptone closed with a flawless set that included his Beatport-topping remixes of “Liquid Spirit” by Gregory Porter and “Omen” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith before finishing with his original track “No Eyes” that foreshadowed a night of much-needed sleep.

On Sunday at The Saguaro’s pool, French record label Partyfine’s funk ambassador Jean Tonique made his appearance, with London’s Marcus Marr following in what ultimately became my personal favorite set of the weekend. Marr brought the funk early and then worked in some dark bass lines before ending with an extended piano-intro version of Prince’s 1979 single “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, which had 99.98 percent of the crowd thoroughly enjoying the last few hours that were left of Splash House.

Over at The Riviera, an absolutely bonkers DJ roster of DFA Records’ The Juan Maclean, LA hometown heroes DJ Dodger Stadium (aka DJDS, who recently worked on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo), up-and-coming DJ/producer Jesse Rose (who has blessed the LA underground scene throughout 2016), Australian remix champ Cassian (who was a last-minute sub for a sick Chris Malinchak) and festival headliner Gorgon City (who has seemingly played every continent in the world this past year) all took the stage at one point.

Splash House 2016 - Weekend 2

The dedicated partygoers at The Riviera’s pool on Sunday night were not ready to stop when the music was cut off shortly after 9 p.m., which might have been why a $10 impromptu after party was announced by Splash House’s promoters earlier in the day. Coincidentally enough, Sabastion, one-half of LA-based DJ duo Strange Club, told me late on Friday night, “I don’t do the day parties, just the (night parties at the Air Museum) and house parties in the area.” In a way then, it was only fitting that an artist whom Splash House handpicked was the last to hit the decks when it was all said and done.

We also ventured over to “All Day Disco” at The Riviera’s Tiki Pool on Sunday afternoon to catch Alex Harrington, a local DJ who moved to the Coachella Valley area 11 years ago after living in Northern California and was recently recognized as the “Best Club DJ” by Coachella Valley Weekly. Since relocating to the desert, Harrington has seen Splash House grow from a “one-weekend, regionally-known event to a festival that reaches people around the world,” and mentioned that artists are allowed to play whatever style suits them, so he made sure to keep reading the people in the pool to figure out what would keep them moving.

Harrington ended our interview with his own personal hopes that events like Splash House could raise the profile of the area and attract bigger artists in the future, and considering the festival sold out at 5,000 guests per day, all of whom lodged, ate, drank and partied in Palm Springs, we wouldn’t expect anything less than a bigger and better edition in 2017.